As a boomer, you are probably well aware that balance declines with age. In fact each year one out of three people over the age of 65 will take a fall. These often devastating events are the top cause of injury death among our age group. And, as we know, women are especially prone to suffering bone fractures.
The reasons for this loss in balance are many. Aging dulls the neural pathways that take in and process information from our eyes, muscles and specialized receptor nerves in our joints and tendons. Moreover, changes in the fluid levels of our inner ear can also affect our sense of balance.
But the good news is that we can do something to counteract these changes—and that is (you got it!) good ol’ exercise. Here are some you may want to try:
- Stand on one foot for at least 10 seconds and then switch to the other. Try to do this without holding on to anything. Then, when you get really good at it, close your eyes. Believe me, it’s harder than you think!
- Walk the imaginary tightrope. Try to do this for a minimum of 20 steps while maintaining a solid straight line.
- Try doing squats and other exercises on the half-ball (the one that is hard and flat on one side and ball-shaped on the other). This can really challenge your sense of balance while it strengthens your muscle mass.
Watching your diet can also help. Balance problems can be caused by high blood pressure, so limit your intake of salt and drink plenty of fluids. Avoid alcohol and too much caffeine. Also, if you’re experiencing a lot of dizziness, check with your doctor. A number of drugs you may be taking can actually damage the inner ear. Therefore you’ll want to be well aware of the side effects of any medications you use.
And remember… staying upright and balanced helps keep you fit and feisty!